Monday, January 05, 2009

More Than Just a New Year

I have talked a lot on here about our very special Christmas. New Year was another amazing experience for me this year. Having spent three of the last four Christmasses in hospital, we have also seen three New Year's in during a long term hospital stay. Many people have spent a New Year celebration with the feeling that everyone else is having a party that they were not really invited to. New Year in hospital can really exacerbate that kind of emotion.

My first hospital New Year was during William's initial long stay when he first went onto TPN and we began to learn of the extent of his medical condition, including he fact that he would, ultimately, face the need of a transplant to stay alive. Paul was off to a party with some old friends and singers. I went along too. It was a great party but one of the worst evenings of my life. I had lost all the skills I needed to mix with this group of confident and charismatic strangers. I lurked in the corner, watching Paul and all his mates share fun and enjoyment that came so easily to them but that I seemed unable to raise within myself. Paul and I had a massive row on the way back and I ended up on a bus alone. One of the party games had been to ask questions to guess each other's favourite book, film etc. I had the feeling that I was just tagging on with Paul and no-one was really interested in mine. I was telling this to the nurses when I got back and one asked me what my favourite film was. This resulted in an animated discussion of films, books and actors. I remember how sad it made me feel that I had become more socially comfortable sitting at a nurses station on a children's ward than in a house party. I have never been that good in a room of strangers but would have usually managed a lot better than I had. I will never forget the emotions I experienced that night.

Last year, Paul and I tried to have a special New Year. Once again, William was pretty unwell and we were waiting for his illeostomy operation that would happen when the full surgical and gastro teams were reassembled after the Christmas and New Year break. We did OK, having a meal together and then walking down to watch the fireworks over the Thames. We were going through the motions a bit though and neither of us could say it was the best New Year, especially as we were worried about William at the time.

This year looked set to be another disaster. I didn't want to be alone and Paul didn't really fancy travelling up when neither of us had any plans of what we would do here. We would likely have ended up wandering aimlessly, once again watching everyone else have fun. My lovely Christmas Fairy, Aunty P, gave me a Parish Mag for her church. She had told me about this wonderful 'Candlelight Church' that takes place each week and I really wanted to go and experience it. Unfortunately, the timing would make it just a bit too early to have settled William and travelled there. Looking throught he mag, I saw there was to be a special Candlelight Church on New Year's Eve. I felt that this was the perfect way for me to see out this amazing year and look to the future. The reflective and religous mood would be just right for me and I felt I really had to be there. Paul was pleased as it gave him a free pink pass to spend his idea of a perfect New Year with his mates. I did get a bit sad that we were to be apart during the days leading up to it and did ask him to come here afterall, which went down like a ton of bricks! If he had of come, I wouldn't have experienced one of the most amazing New Year's ever.

I had met the girl who organised the evening when she came to visit me with Aunty P. Her husband very kindly picked me up. It was a misty and icy evening and I suddenly felt really vulnerable waiting outside the hospital. It has been such a long time, many years since I last went to a social event with strangers, probably that New Year's eve in 2005. I worried about being so far away from William, what if we crashed on ice or into a drunk driver.... I felt better as soon as I was on my way. The church was beautiful. Inside were Christmas trees on each window ledge, a large one at the front and candles everywhere. It was magic. I was given a coffee and asked if I would read in the Taize service that was to proceed the communion service to see in 2009. My reading from Isiah 43 could not have been more perfect. "Forget former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!" It is easy for those non-religious people reading this to say that, of course a New Year church service would focus on hope for the future and all things new but I was very aware of God talking to me, reassuring me and reaffirming that He wants me to look for how I should be using the experiences I have journeyed through in the coming year and those that follow. I felt an incredible sense hope, peace and calm.

Just as well I felt calm really as the next thing I was asked to do was sing...solo! I haven't sung alone in public for a very long time. I had 5 minutes to think of what to sing during the peace in the communion service to follow. There was no time to find something I could be accompanied in so I chose the Taize chant that says 'My peace I bring you, my peace I leave you. Trouble not your heart, be not afraid.' William's transplant has saved his life and our family. It has given us a future. However, with that will come enormous challenges and change. Our family has been fragmented for the last three years. We are about to come back together again which is fantastic and I just can't wait. All large change, even positive, brings stress and uncertainty. I also have to find my way in the world again. I have lost a lot of who and what I was before. I was thrown in the deep end on New Year's Eve, reading and singing in a group of brand new people. I don't believe that was an accident. That filled me with confidence for the coming year. Our family will learn to be together again. We will have our moments but we will get there. I will find my feet and build my own life again. I have talents and gifts that have been put away in storage and are a bit rusty but they will get the chance to be aired again this year. It isn't just a new year this year. It is a new start, a new life. I am excited and I am nervous. I know that I will be made into something new but I also know I need to take time to reflect and recover. I was delivering the messages to myself in the words of that reading and that song.


craftyclaire said...

So glad that you are feeling positive about the future. I was saying a little while ago how due to my ME I am not the person I once was and was told nobody remains the same we all grow and change. Obviously you have been in a situation where you have become more aware of the changes on yourself but remember we all change. You now have a wonderful opportunity to start afresh and use the skills you have learnt over the last few years as well as the skills you began this journey with.
Good luck for the future,

Anonymous said...

Im very pleased to hear that your feeling postivie about the future.
It'l be a big and good change for you all, no more long stays in hospital,'special sleeps', and instead lots of fun days, doing all sorts of fun things, as a family. in my oppion; transplant should always be a big but amazing change for the whole family. To enjoy a life togeather that was never known.
Good luck with everything.
Love Emma x

meme said...

That sounds like the most perfect start to a year reflection on the old and hope for the new.I must admit to having a tear in my eye as I read your blog.
Look forward to continuing to hear about your news in 2009.
Thinking of you love Maria

Sarah S said...

Sarah, I know you don't know me, I read about William going in for his transplant on post pals and have checked your blog everyday since and been praying for you all (especially William) and rejoicing your positive news and the lovely pictures you have posted. This blog entry has really touched me, as a Christian myself and having had a tough couple of years (although no where near as rough as yours) I know the love of Our Lord. He will be there with you every step of the way as he has been so far, He loves you and has somehow, through the difficult times you have had, made you a much stronger person. You know that you will no longer be the same person, it will be like the change that happens when you first have a child, but you will be a new you.
I wish you all the best for 2009.
God Bless you all